"There must be dales in Paradise
Which you and I will find.."

Monday, 11 October 2021


Bilsdale Mast brought down

Bilsdale Mast, at 1030' so long a feature of our North Yorkshire walks, was brought down by a controlled explosion on Wednesday 6th October 2021, after it was damaged by fire.

For those who haven't seen it, here's the official Arqiva video of the event.

If you are viewing this on a phone and the video doesn't show then click "View Web Version" at the bottom of your page.

Saturday, 9 October 2021


Shallow Dale and Ampleforth Country

9 miles                    Warm and fine

We drove to Ampleforth via the A19 and Thirsk Bank and parked in the village where there is plenty of roadside parking.

Today's walk from The Walker's Guide to the Hambleton Hills

Walking through Ampleforth

Converted Wesleyan Chapel

New personalised weather vane, we could hear the dog barking as we passed by

Tom Scott Burns says that Ampleforth is mentioned in the Domesday Book and means 'ford where the sorrel grows.'

As we walked uphill out of the village we saw a memorial bench with an interesting plaque to an 'Old Timer'.  We would like to know more about Ron Tyreman but an internet search for the man and song has proved negative.

We followed the road west out of the village and took the second turning on the right, into Westwood Lane.  Passing a working sawmill the road soon becomes a narrow lane which is very pretty and pleasant to walk along, as we enter Shallow Dale.  

This is a very quiet dale and there is little trace of the Quaker settlement that was once scattered along the valley, growing flax in terraces and spinning it into yarn. There are heaps of stone where their cottages once stood. 

Turn into Westwood Lane

These old vehilcles are near the entrance to the saw mill where they once worked

Fordson tractor

Snake Villa in Westwood Lane

Grass covers the foundations of the old Quaker community

The lane becomes more overgrown as we progress

A long gentle climb brought us to the head of the valley where the path continues past High Woods Farm and then returns alongside Low Wood plantation before entering Burtis Wood.  We walked through the wood for some time, descending, sometimes steeply, back towards towards Carr Lane.

Passing cattle in Westwood Lane

A new sign

The trees of Royalty Slack ahead

Clive reads the inscription at a memorial table 

Entering fields where the path is diverted around the farm buildings

Passing behind High Woods Farm

High Woods Farm

Walking alongside the trees of Low Wood

Burtis Wood appears ahead

Over the stile and into the wood

Helpful yellow waymarks keep us on track through the wood

After leaving the wood at a stile we turned sharp left and, after standing to watch a family of buzzards for a while, we walked through three fields, keeping parallel to the road below.

Buzzard watching

Five buzzards, must be a family group

As we reached a stile into the third field we paused and watched a wasp battling a spider on the stile.  We left them to it wondering who would win?

A gated bridge across Burtis Beck

Clive calls me to witness a fight on the stile

Mortal combat?

As we crossed the third field we passed by some brambles where we saw several comma butterflies.  A butterfly we never saw in my youth, they have become common over the last 40 years, apparently because they thrive in the warmer climate.

The Comma Butterfly

We rejoined the road at the end of the third field. We were now leaving Shallow Dale and after crossing Carr Lane we began today's second circular walk, this time southwards of Ampleforth.

We crossed the road and entered a field where we came to a sudden halt.  Two beligerent heifers emerged from some bushes and would not give way to us, despite our best shouting and waving.  When the more feisty white cow started towards us we decided discretion was the best part of valour and made a detour of their field.

The next field contained a herd of cattle who were totally disinterested and we walked through unmolested.

Leave the road through a gate

We meet our match

We didn't want to go that way anyway..

Friendly cows

We followed a way-marked path across fields to reach Newstead pond, which TSB describes as delightful but now, overgrown with weeds and algae, no longer deserves that moniker.  Here we turned sharp left and walked back up to the field boundary where we found a sheltered spot to sit and enjoy our coffee and scones.

Newstead Barn...

.. and its feral pigeons

Not so lovely Newstead Pond


Clive reads about the Comma butterfly

After a pleasant break we set off once more crossing a couple of fields and joining a lane which took us past Old Pilfit Farm.

Some wet paths..

.. lead to Old Pilfit Farm

Crab apple tree

Converted railway property

We passed the old railway track and property that once served Ampleforth until 1950.

The lane reaches Low Lion Lodge and bears left, but we leave it by keeping straight on past the lodge before entering fields to walk south to reach the much grander High Lion Lodge.

Low Lion Lodge Farm

We spot the White Horse in the distance

Upper Lion House

Residents at Upper Lion Lodge

Fancy Hens

Donkeys and cattle graze happily together

Passing by Upper Lion House and its menagerie of pet livestock we turned right into North Moor Lane and after a couple of hundred yards, turned left onto a forestry road to cross Yearsley Moor.

Walking up North Moor Lane

Notice Board as we enter Yearsley Moor

Dense woodland in Yearsley Moor

Eventually we reached Higher Fish Ponds where we swung left to sweep past the ponds to reach Lower Fish Pond.  This Lower Fish Pond is far larger and is a tranquil and pretty spot.

Higher fish pond

Lower Fish Pond

Walking through Ampleforth Estate

Just past Lower Fish Pond the route turns north to cross a sheep field.  There are new gates on the field and no way marks on this side of the field but a stile and way marks at the far side.

We crossed the old embankment of the long disused Malton to Coxwold railway.  TSB explains that a special train (shades of Harry Potter) used to convey students from London to Ampleforth College at the start of each term until the line was closed in 1964.

Clive looks over to Ampleforth College

Passing an owl box

Looking back at Gilling Wood

There was a fine view of Ampleforth Abbey and College to our right as we joined and then followed Mill Lane back to Ampleforth.

The houses of Ampleforth appear ahead

Ampleforth Abbey to the left and College over to the right

Manor House,  Ampleforth

Marian House

Although without many interesting features this is a pretty route along little walked paths and best done with a close eye to the map.
No pubs were open in Ampleforth on our return but a short drive to Coxwold found us sitting outside the Fauconberg Arms for our debrief while enjoying the autumn sunshine.

To the Old Timer, whoever he was!